A little bit over a year ago, I saw a kitchen remodel on HGTV’s “Income Property” show which involved Ikea high gloss grey cabinets. At the time, I was thinking about using the same type of cabinets in our future kitchen (we were thinking we would build a house back then). The thing that caught my eye, because I was already familiar with the cabinets, was the tile that was used in the episode: it was a random width marble mosaic. I loved it. The look of natural stone is classic and timeless, and can be modern with the right cutwork. This particular tile looked great with a grey and white kitchen on the episode… so I kept the idea tucked away. The small variating repeating pattern really gave the marble a modern look.
Before I get into this story, I should let you know – we started looking for tile before we had our house. We went mostly for fun (because, looking for tile is fun for everyone, right?) and partially to get an idea of costs for building materials. So, about a year after I saw the episode with my dream tile, we went looking for it. Spencer and I went to different tile shops in our city but found that they were a little stand-off-ish, their prices were rather high, and they didn’t carry the tile I was looking for. (Honestly, the sales people pretty much ignored us – we probably looked young and perhaps without a budget.) We went to the major stores, such as Home Depot – however, at the time, they didn’t have many modern options in Atlanta (Atlanta’s known to be more traditional). Onward to one of the only other options: Floor & Decor. There are very few shops that specialize in tile. Fortunately, we live in one of twelve states that does have a Floor & Decor. They have, literally, hundreds of styles to choose from on the floor. It turns out that they did carry the tile I had seen. It was not on sale and was labeled as $10.99 per 12 x 12 sheet. While we were there, we decided to look throughout the store at other tile just to be informed about options and prices.
In retrospect, it turns out that the tile on our first trip in the image below was completely mislabeled – this was not “Carrara white random stick mosaic marble” at all, but we didn’t know that at the time. Though, the name did seem appropriate. I mean, it wasn’t labeled blue hex tile or something like that.
After returning home, I googled the tile to see if it existed anywhere else. I really did expect that more than one business would carry this specific tile – they did not – it seemed to be exclusive to Floor and Decor.
Jump forward three months:
We had purchased a house and were planning a full kitchen renovation. I actually needed to do realistic shopping now. Back to Floor & Decor – we found that the tile had been moved to the clearance rack. I thought I had remembered it being marked $11, and now it was labeled “$12.44 down to $9.99” umm, okay… it’s still a better price, so I didn’t really question it at the time. (Note that the labels don’t match, but the tile does)
Again, the description seemed to match up: “bianco carrara & white mosaic marble tile”. The sale rack, in this instance, meant it was being discontinued – so we knew we needed to make a decision. $9.99 a square foot for the amount of tile we needed was still a bit steep though.
For your reference, here’s a rendering of the entire wall to be tiled ( ~60 sq. ft.) This would put the cost before taxes at $600 without any extra tiles:
It turns out, the term “waterfall” was the correct information. The mosaic pattern did come in different colors as well – bianco carrara/white, carrara only, blue, and a few others. During this trip, we figured out that we had trusted the tag from the previous trip and we that decided that it was incorrect (Actually, it turns out that it was correct and this third label was wrong… sheesh.) Anyway, at this point $6.99 a sheet was still high and we were talking ourselves out of it (that’s still $419.40 before taxes and extra tile). We decided that the mix of type of marble (pure white with grey streaks & some solid light cream pieces) looked too yellow and it might not look nice against pure white cabinets.
Four days later (at a different store location), we were back looking at different tile options. We were briefly considering this “Carrara white polished random width” that had three sizes of larger tile mixed in the same box, ranging from 1.5″ to 4″ wide. It wasn’t as small scale as the “waterfall mosaic”, but we could possibly get a similar look…just on a much much larger scale. Design-wise, the long horizontal pieces would definitely give the space a modern look. (In retrospect, these were probably way to big for a backsplash and more appropriate fore some other application.)
The white Carrara tile was sitting next to the blue tile of the same pattern. The white did not have a price, but the blue did… and it was $4.99.
The blue was, from the start, a less expensive version and we knew it. The Carrara was originally $12.44, I believe, and the blue was $10. So we nonchalantly asked a sales associate the price of the white since it wasn’t marked. He said, since there wasn’t any information on the color, then he would sell it to us for the price of the blue. This is when we decided that the yellowish tone of the sone my not be that bad after all.
We purchased the lot – everything they had. The sales associate then asked if we needed any more: we could buy them at his store and pick them up at a different one (where they still had more in stock.) So we did.
We ended up buying enough to cover the entire backsplash wall. From counter to to ceiling: of course, excluding the areas behind the cabinets, window, & vent hood. From our perspective, confusing labels and all: in the course of a week, the price dropped from $9.99 to $6.99 to $4.99.
We calculated that we needed approximately 60 square feet of tile for the backsplash wall. (That’s the ~84 sq.ft. wall, subtracting the window and cabinets).
60 X $5 = $303 (before tax) I think thats a pretty good price for a wall of marble tile…. and if there’s anything I’ve learned from “Income Property”, its spend money where it counts: where it will make a big impression. Oh, and we did buy a few extra boxes to be safe.
As a side note, I had to compare our iPhone photos of the label and sku numbers, and figure out what was accurately (or inaccurately) labeled after the fact. I think things may get jumbled when employees stock the sale rack, but inaccurate information three out of four times is a pretty bad ratio. Of course, I am super ecstatic that the pricing worked out for us… but I would have been very disappointed if I thought I was purchasing a tile for a certain price… and then went to the register and found out it was double. Even a few dollars more would have added up & have been detrimental to the overall plan. I suppose something to take out of this experience – from any store – is to ask sales associates to confirm the price or check the price at the register before getting your heart set on a certain product.